Wednesday, February 22, 2006

What makes it special?

Nine months into starting my first book, my third rejection from an agent had just arrived in the mail and the pressure from everyone from my girlfriend to my family to my investment advisor was piling on. The savings were running out and I'd spent two years travelling and another year trying to write a book about the travels, only to get it rejected right away, again and again.
So I called up an editor, wanting to send her my work for an appraisal. She sounded well into her seventies over the phone and seemed cynical about anyone wanting to become an author. And well she should have been, with 99% of wannabe authors writing unpublishable books, she was trying to tell me what I was up against.
Her question caught me off guard though. "What makes your book special? Why would someone want to publish YOUR book?"
I fumbled for an answer, what makes my book special?
"
Well," I said, "It's about a journey from Cape Town to Britain in a Beach Buggy."
She sounded angry. "That's not very special, thousands of people make long journeys all the time, unless your Michael Palin, nobody's going to give a damn if you write about it."
The conversation ended shortly later and I was slightly shaken. She was right, you needed an angle or something special to get published in the travel market.
So, what makes my book special?
It was a very important question, but the problem is, there are a lot of things which make it special. But she wanted to hear something I could write on the back of a business card, a catch phrase which makes a publisher jump out of their shoes and want to CHECK OUT this writer.
So I toyed with different sentences, changing the name of the book to Beach Buggy Safari.

Beach Buggy Safari - Three continents, twenty countries, deserts, bandits, terrorists, harrowing breakdowns and a thousand more challenges.

Beach Buggy Safari - After being shot at, threatened by terrorists and broken down a hundred times. The beauty and ugliness of Africa and the Middle East comes alive when a quirky car draws attention.

Beach Buggy Safari - Herbie meets War Torn Africa. A man's love-hate relationship with his funky car, and the continent of Africa.

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